Assessing recruitment procedures for the Zivuseni anti-poverty programme
In the last edition of Phatlalatsa, Moagi Ntsime described S&T's role in the Zivuseni Gauteng poverty alleviation programme. Here he describes two diagnostic evaluation studies focusing on recruitment procedures and the extent to which the programme reaches its intended beneficiary group.
What is a diagnostic evaluation study?
Diagnostic evaluation studies are normally fast turn-around and very
focused exercises with the aim to understanding in detail the challenges
facing the implementation process. However, it is important to bear in
mind that such rapid exercises may not be representative of the entire
programme; but they do ensure that managers have information on which
to base decisions and design interventions.
The main objective in carrying such exercises is to assist the implementation
team in carrying out their management mandate and (where appropriate)
steer the project in the desired direction. This is a monitoring function,
intended to equip managers to deal with issues as they emerge and quickly
institute corrective actions instead of allowing problems to worsen.
For the diagnostic studies reported here, we agreed in consultation
with the programme team to use two projects in Soweto that were part of
the first phase of the programme. The two projects were the Chris Hani
Baragwanath Nursing College and Isolihle Primary School. We wanted to
assess whether or not the programme implemented its recruitment guidelines
successfully, and what challenges it faced.
Pose questions to those directly affected
There are always lessons to be learned from the literature and documented
experiences from elsewhere, as well as the policy and programme documentation;
but it is always most valuable to pose questions to those directly impacted
on. The value is that they bring different perspectives to the fore which
can improve the programme strategies.
What we found
After conducting the interviews and analysing the data we noted that
projects were following similar processes in recruiting their workforce.
Beneficiaries are selected when a Cluster Manager forwarded his/her request
to the programme office for workers, specifying the labour requirements
– how many workers, for what types of work and over what duration
The programme office has a database of people who registered during
the Zivuseni registration process, from which they select people. However,
the database was designed such that it did not allow manipulation to ensure
that all those registered have an equal chance of being selected. The
programme officer responsible for administering the database confirmed
that it was difficult to ascertain whether a person had been selected
previously or not, and to do so manual recording had to be used. We are
pleased to report that as a result of this exercise and suggestions from
the Programme Steering Committee, the system has since been reformatted.
Zivuseni targets the unemployed and poorest members of the community
from sites identified as priorities for anti-poverty interventions. This
brings its own challenges.
Firstly, we found that many of those involved in the programme had been
unemployed for a number of years. Many had children to look after. According
to most of them, the programme was a huge relief to them, helping eradicate
some of their miseries. They were now able to buy food for their children
from the allowances they received for their engagement in the programme.
As one of them told us, ‘since my involvement in Zivuseni now my
children can go to school with something in their stomachs’.
While beneficiaries were appreciative of the changes Zivuseni brought
to their lives, the fact that it is a short-term employment creation programme
was of great concern. The programme aims to reach poor and unemployed
people, and the projects are short-term, often lasting not more than three
months. After this, rotation occurs and other members of the beneficiary
community are given an opportunity to work for three months.
Targeted areas: Source of labour
The programme design is that members of the workforce should come from
the communities where projects are being implemented. This requires tight
selection procedures and very clear explanations of the objectives of
the programme to all concerned – notably those who are poor but
whose local areas are not targeted for projects.
Members of the project team and workforce told us that a high proportion
of those who worked on projects were local residents. During the preparatory
stages of the programme, those who registered were urged to do so in their
respective localities to avoid disqualification. Members of the local
Community Steering Committees worked closely with the project team to
ensure this was adhered to. No-one can guarantee a watertight process,
but it is commendable that the programme is committed to ensuring an equitable
distribution of short-term employment opportunities.
The target beneficiaries for Zivuseni are women, youth, men and the
disabled. Each of these has to form a certain proportion of the workforce
with special emphasis on women who head single households. Achieving employment
targets is a contractual delivery of those responsible for implementing
the programme. The problem we have encountered elsewhere is that targets
for women are achieved by employing them at the very end of a project
to clean and tidy it ready for hand-over; or during the project to make
tea and 'help the men'.
It was encouraging to note that while the programme was struggling in
certain instances to reach its targets, women were performing same tasks
as their male counterparts. For example, in Isolihle Primary School in
Zola 3, women were involved in carrying out activities such as painting
classrooms, toilets and the roof; installing tiles; and renovating damaged
ceilings. This is extremely positive; and we hope our findings are more
broadly representative of Zivuseni.
There are other national and provincial government programmes which
could be confused with Zivuseni. This is obviously problematic, given
the specificities of each programme and the need to avoid sending out
contradictory messages. For example, Zivuseni is running parallel to Letsema;
in Letsema, community members are expected to work as volunteers and do
not receive an allowance. Robust communication strategies are commonly
the last part of a development programme (or second last, one above M&E);
this despite the self-evident need for communication.
'Low class work'
One of the most unfortunate trends that emerged from our diagnostic
evaluation studies in Soweto was that some beneficiaries do not want to
do ‘low class’ work. An example given was that just before
the World Summit on Sustainable Development, people were selected to join
a litter clean-up campaign. When they were informed that the project involved
picking up garbage, most declined.
Zivuseni is a short-term employment creation and poverty alleviation
programme. Therefore, it has ambitious overall objectives, it has a small
window of time within which to spread its net as widely as possible. It
cannot address all the poverty problems of the province and its municipalities.
It faces some real challenges: but is also making real advances.